The standard of living is the highest in the world and there are more people present in the country than ever before. Yet, Gallup poll studies and polls (from The People’s Religion) conclude that Americans are among the loneliest people in the world. How can this be?
To find the answer, all you have to do is examine our daily lifestyle. It simply presents major obstacles to community. We’re so busy being over-committed, many of us don’t know some of our neighbors’ names. Nor do we feel like we want to, because after all, we don’t have time to “waste” on those relationships. Heck, we barely have the time to maintain the relationships that are most important to us while still accomplishing our own individual pursuits.
There’s no available hours
The average American lifestyle comes complete with long commutes, 9 to 10-hour workdays, rear-entry garages, privacy fences, air conditioning, TV, home offices, frozen dinners, house and lawn care, children’s sports, school and church activities, and life with family and friends – among other things.
When you add it all together, there’s no available hours left over. Even if there were, those you would spend time with have the same problem. Occasionally fellowship time between families is set aside, but this usually requires planning for well in advance and is used for relationship maintenance (catching up), not relationship building.
Church members are no different
You would think that the loneliness would be avoided among Christians who attend church. But, the physical distance between church members’ homes, the infrequency of meetings, and the over-committed lifestyles of the members (causing inconsistent attendance) results in a lack of connection that needs to be present to combat it.
The lifestyle that has been built in America discourages community, allowing isolation to rule our neighborhoods. In the coming weeks, we’re going to talk about the obstacles to community created by our lifestyle and what it would take to overcome them. Restructuring one’s lifestyle is not easy. In fact, I believe it ranks up there with some of the hardest things you can face. But, if your hope for Christian community is going to be realized in your life, it will be necessary.